The Story of the Black Buck Continues…

The excitement of catching sight of a black buck changed the entire mood of the day. We decided to take a well-needed break. Considering the shelter was not clean – we decided to stay in the car with the AC switched on and the seats moved to a more relaxed option. After a few minutes, I noticed that the Arien was yawning away and realized that he wud end up falling asleep which would not do. Convinced him to go to the reserve one more time before we could head for home. There is no need to push or persuade an Arien – if it involves any effort, he will be the first in the queue 😀

buck-runningSo we happily started off on our final drive arnd the reserve. Near the gate, the Arien spotted a cute lil fox. The moment we stopped the car, it went underground. The Arien spent an amazing amt of time hoping it wud show up and I managed to remain patient. The Arien realized tht the wait was a waste of time and came bk to the car. We chose the same route hoping we would catch sight of the herd once again. We did. Suddenly, the entire herd started running. The entire herd crossed from the vast space on our right to the vast space on our left – a few paces ahead of us. I think we scared them. I was not too sure if we wanted to continue with going after them when they seemed so frightened. So, we dropped the idea of going any further and turned around. The  route was filled with thorns and brambles and the Arien was worried that we wud get stuck here in case we had a puncture. Surprisingly, I had not thought of that! Looks like I was well and truly in the buck-watching moment and had forgotten all sundry concerns 😀buck-cycle

buck-watchOn our return, we kept an eye out for the fox. I had given up hope of catching sight of any more bucks when the Arien spotted a buck standing under the shade of a tree.  It had blended in so well with the surroundings that it was kinda difficult to initially make out that a buck was even standing there. To our surprise, we realized tht the buck was observing us.

We managed to take the camera out and shoot some pics when we noticed that the buck was looking away – at the road ahead of us. We initially thot tht the buck considered itself a celebrity and was busy giving us the best angles to work with and get the photo shoot over with. I was telling this to the Arien as I was shooting the second snap when we heard the unmistakable sound of a cycle chain going “Scrunch Crunch Clank Clank” on the untarred road. We turned to see two village folks appear on a cycle. We wondered at the sharp hearing of the buck. I wanted one more shot – u kinda get pretty greedy when you see them so close. 😀 Well, the Arien wanted to shoot a video of the Buck and so I am not the only greedy one 😀 

That was when we both got the shock of our life – the buck turned tail (pun unintended) and ran. Till then, it looked like the buck was having thebuck-running-away time of its life, watching us watching it, giving us sm amazing angles and then suddenly it jes ran. There was no sudden movement frm our end and so we were at a loss as to why the buck ran away from us. We had not even got out of the car. We were both a lil puzzled by that. This had actually happened earlier as well. I tried reasoning it out – the bucks were afraid of cylists i.e the villagers. Thts when it hit me. I shared my theory with the Arien. I feel that the villagers kill the bucks for meat. So ob. the buck is frightened of the villagers. There is no other way I cud explain why the buck feared a cycle but not a car. The Arien was not too impressed 😀

We headed past the Observation tower and started on our return journey. The journey was again broken multiple times and this time I was not so patient. We stopped at the same location where the Arien had spotted an owl, parrot, n what not all on one single tree.

eaglekiteWe stopped there once again. This time the Arien decided to try out the Digital Zoom option and lo and behold! we had these amazing close-up shots of the birds that almost looked too good to be true. We now wished we cud go back n take snaps of the Bucks all over again 😦 I was pretty upset but the Arien took it all in his stride. I guess he was pretty happy to get the snaps of the birds sitting on tht tree tht missing the buck had not hit him, yet.

After the Digital Zoom episode, the Arien went mad, to be honest. He stopped the car at every opportunity so he could take more snaps of teeny birds that would fly away the instant they found out that he was taking a snap. After 2 more such stops, I lost my patience. Some of the snaps  were truly fantastic. However, we had made too many stops. I was looking forward to reaching home and blogging ’bout the trip 🙂 As we stopped at places bird6-2where we had lost our way, I took snaps so when we made the next trip, we would not have such a hard time. Soon, I was the one who was delaying us 😀 Having made so many stops on our way back, we got stuck at Neelamangala at peak traffic time – 6 p.m.  It took us 2 hours to reach Bangalore and familiar landmarks nearer home. We picked up dinner on our way back which added to the journey time. When we stepped into our home, it was past 10 pm. We were tired but we were also very happy that we had such an amazing day trip. So how do you get here?? Directions coming up in the next post!

Maidenahalli – The Black Buck Reserve – A Day Trip

Weekends have been spent lazing for the past one month and tht usually makes the Arien restless. So, on Friday when I reached home, I was not too surprised to find the Arien looking excited and enthused. I was very sure he had come up with a plan for a loong drive. And I was right – he had found a blog post that discussed a Black Buck Reserve, in Tumkur, and was totally enthused because the snaps looked very good and the writer had actually shared directions on how to reach there. Seeing his enthusiasm, I agreed to the get ready by 6 am on Saturday morning. We finally left home at 6:25 a.m.

kamatmynahThe route was via Yeshwanthpur and Neelamangala and though there was not much traffic – it felt like we were driving forever. We had breakfast at Kamat Upchar.  After a quick breakfast of Idli Vada and Masala Dosai for the Arien, I thought we would leave immediately. The Arien was completely in awe of some mynahs that we saw on a huge wall that is on the property of Kamat. This wall encloses the children’s play area and was surprisingly pretty high. There were a number of circular nest-like holes on the wall – the purpose of which totally escapes me. These mynahs would go in and then poke their head out of these nest-like spaces. They looked pretty cute – black against white background.  Soon, the Arien was taking their pictures until I told him that we have not yet completed even half of the journey.

We left Kamat only to stop a kilometer away at Cafe Coffee Day. The plan was to pack lunch at CCD which was a stone’s throw away.  Thus, with lunch taken care off – we continued on our way to Tumkur. The drive was looong and I fell asleep a couple of times and was jolted awake because of the bad roads.

The Arien broke the journey multiple times by taking pictures. The bee-catcher bird was his favorite and it would be still on a small branch until he walked closer – it wud then instantly fly away. His attempts and subsequent misses kept me amused 😀 sunflower1

After one particularly boring wait, he told me there were 2 owls, a parrot, and a bee catcher on the tree and he really cud not take a snap. I was no longer amused. Also, the locals stare at you in exactly the same way the Arien stared at the birds. It can be quite irritating. 😀

I had to either signal to the Arien tht we better move or roll up the windows.  It was a warm day and it was arnd 11 and we were nowhere near the Reserve. During one of those picture taking adventures – he was trying to take a snap of possibly the smallest sparrow one cud have ever seen, from within the car. Out of the blue, came a boy cycling exactly when the focus was purrfect and the sparrow flew away. The Arien was furious. The kid’s sole aim was to see why we had stopped n so he went a few metres ahead, stopped his cycle, got off and stared at us. I have never seen such unabashed curiosity and so I was pretty shocked :O

Up ahead was a picture-perfect sunflower field whose beauty almost hurt the eye. This was one pic, I did not want to miss. So, for a change, I asked the Arien to stop and take this pic.

obstower-1We finally reached Maidenahalli and it was a shock. Nothing really prepares you for the open space with no buildings in sight. There were two shelters built right in the middle of nowhere, it seemed. One was a watch tower kinda shelter – you had to climb a flight of stairs. The other one was on the ground-level.

Both of them were very dirty. We both were glad to get out of the car – the drive was loong and it was a hot summer day – and so we were surprised to feel a nice breeze. We wondered if we should have lunch or go in search of the black buck.  The Arien was in favor of the latter. We set off.

The first route that we took, led us to straight to a group of men who were toiling hard in the deerobservingafternoon sun. The Arien got out to ask them for sm directions to spots where we cud actually catch sight of the black buck. One of the men pointed in the direction of a few bushes and lo and behold! we caught sight of a buck and the herd of deer with it. It was sooo far away that smtms it felt like your eyes were playing tricks on you – but the horn of the black buck is distinctive – thank the lord 🙂 So, we soon set out in the same direction hoping to catch a closer glipse of them. Well, what did we find out: they have a keen sense of hearing n so they heard us frm pretty far and moved almost as far away as you can figure out frm this snap.

Can you spot two deers in the left-most corner of the snap?? That is where my hand shook and the deer instead of being the focus are at the left corner of the snap. You can actually see that they are observing us – their heads cocked to one side – all ready to bolt. The Arien had this plan of going after them – he said they can hear us because of the car – why not walk up? I was so eager to catch sight of the bucks that I agreed.

 So, we wore hats that we brought with us, locked the car, carried our cameras and trudged towards the deer who hearing us go “CRUNCCCHH – SCRUUUNNNCCHH – crack – CRUNCH – CRUNCH” ran so far away that taking a snap was almost impossible. By then, we were tired out, perspiring with all tht effort and so we headed back to the car and the watch tower so we could have our lunch.

blackbuckLunch was a short affair – sandwiches! We were done in no time and I commented “This trip was a total waste of time – the black buck is so far away – saying we saw it is like saying we see stars at night – we should have started late and reached here in the evening – now we cannot stay here till the evening n we cannot go anywhere else”. The Arien felt pretty bad almost instantly and I was sorry for being so blunt. While I was trying to apologise, the Arien pushed me aside and said “Not a single word”.

I was irritated until I turned around and saw that he had a spotted a lone black buck walking very close to the observation tower and not paying any heed to us. I went “WOW” and he quickly took pictures and we decided to follow it. After another looong walk that accomplished nothing, we returned. The black buck had simply disappeared and we were both suddenly pretty enthused ’bout this trip and I quickly apologised for saying tht the trip was a waste. It was a lot of fun inspite of everything. To be continued…

Ooty – Mudumalai – Bangalore

The return journey from Ooty started with a bribe. While we attempted to go via the amazing 36 hairpin bends route – we were asked to stop by a policeman. According to him, the route was closed. We were a lil zapped to hear that. The Arien was sure the policeman meant to collect a bribe. I was worried because the other route to mudumalai would take us 3 hours. The Arien walked to the shack angrily while I waited in the car. True to type – the policeman collected Rs. 100/-  from the Arien. Thankfully, that was all he had left in his wallet 😀

We were then allowed to take the hairpin route – thanks to the bribe and the Arien made good progress. When we reached the 17th hairpin bend – someone stopped us yet again. I was really not interested in paying any more bribes. We had taken a lot longer than planned. We had to go down in the same gears that we drove up in – which means the first and second 😦 and so ob. we took longer. We had to drive only in those gears – which was admittedly quite tough, considering the incline – else the brakes would heat up and then when you need them to stop – they won’t – and we … well, you get it – we wud be in Heaven.. (hehehehe) – well, why else wud they call them 36 Hairpin bends to Heaven. 

Well, when we were stopped – it was because the front tyre was xtremely hot – the guy who stopped us aske dto wait for a while before we continued our descent to Mudumalai. The Arien got out and poured a bottle-cap full of water on the right front tyre hub-  the water sizzled and evaporated!!!! Tht was a totally new experience. When we started our descent to Mudumalai – we had followed a SUV and so I was a lil surprised that the SUV did not have to stop – I asked the Arien if the SUV was trying to commit suicide – the Arien informed me that the SUV had disk (disc) brakes – which meant that it did not stop here – n cud happily continue on its journey, unlike us 😦

After these amazing adventures, we finally reached Mudumalai. When we finally drove into our resort, we found the resort manager looking a lil worried – I told the Arien that the manager must have thot we upped and left without paying – n of course, the Arien refused to think tht. He went to settle the bill while I started to pack. When he came back, after almost an hour, he had a sheepish expression – he felt they looked re-assured which means they had believed we had stayed for two days and left without paying the bills. I burst out laughing. There was almost nobody else in the resort – everybody had driven home earlier in the day – we were the late latheefs who were suspected of being cheats!! I was not really sure if we should feel insulted at tht.

We finally left at 5 pm and drove non-stop. We did not stop at Nanjangud, as planned earlier.  It was a good drive – we made good speed – the Arien had fun overtaking a MERC – while I stared in awe – of course,we stayed ahead only for a few minutes – maybe 10 -15 mts – before the MERC overtook us with its sheer power. The race kept the Arien enthused – he did not feel sleepy. We had dinner at Kamat Lokaruchi – which is jes after Mandya. We also reached Bangalore surprisingly faster. It was a fun holiday 😀